Study Finds Brands Should Support Quality Journalism & Optimize Ad Strategies Across All News Genres

New York, NY – November 2, 2021 – Brand safety concerns have been widespread in the last few years, with many marketers becoming increasingly focused on ensuring safe and relevant environments for their advertising. A new study by MAGNA Media Trials, MAGNA’s industry-leading proprietary research offering, in collaboration with Disney Advertising Sales, “No News Is Bad News: Ads In News & Other Types of Content,” reveals that the news source a brand is featured in matters more than the surrounding content. The study also found that having a presence in reliable news sources drives better ad effectiveness. Additionally, a marketer’s ad strategy should be customized and tailored by news genre to deliver optimal ROI.

The mission of the study was to uncover the true impact of advertising within news and define guardrails for it as well. A key finding of the study is that ads in news work just as well as in non-news and even have a strong positive impact on brand favorability when the news itself is deemed “heavy” by viewers. The study also found that news content is so uniquely valued that brands running in news are perceived as trustworthy and providing more valuable information than when they appear in non-news content.

Detailed key findings of the study include:

  • News content is uniquely valued, and ads benefit from the positive halo: People found news content more valuable, trustworthy and interesting; and as a result, ads in news felt +8% more relevant, +6% more valuable, and +4% more trustworthy, compared to non-news content.
  • News perceived as ‘heavy’ isn’t bad for brands, instead it drives brand impact: Brand favorability was up +7% and intent to recommend advertised brand was up +5% from ads in news perceived as heavy by participants.
  • Credibility of the news source matters – especially to the affluent: 57% of respondents feel that brands should vet the news source before advertising. This was especially true for more affluent households, those with incomes $100K+ (61%), versus those with incomes of $35K or less (52%).
  • The news source a brand runs its ad on matters more than the news content itself: Ads on a high-quality, trusted and well-respected news source led to increased brand favorability (+21%), research intent (+25%), and purchase intent (+21%).
  • Ad message is key when advertising in different types of news: In hard news, a more direct, product focused ad message led to higher brand impact, with favorability up +10%, research intent up +5% and purchase intent up +7%. Conversely, in race and culture news, a storytelling approach worked better for elevating favorability (+11%) and purchase intent (+10%).

“An important insight from the study is how passionate people feel about the news source that a brand advertises on, and the reliability of that source is a key driver of purchase intent,” said Joshua Lowcock, Chief Digital Officer, UM, and Global Brand Safety Officer, IPG Mediabrands. “Brands should support quality journalism if they want to maximize the effectiveness of their ad spend. It recognizes that credible and trusted news websites are not a brand safety risk and that where you place your ad matters.”
“The diversified storytelling that news provides —from local community coverage, to pop culture, to international affairs— is where the opportunity lies. We’re proud to release this in-depth report, in collaboration with MAGNA, to demonstrate the impact of advertising within this format,” said Asaf Davidov, VP Measurement & Insights for Disney Advertising Sales. “These insights confirm that consumers associate ads seen in news with being trustworthy and valuable. Which offers brands the opportunity to tailor their message to the audience.”
The study recruited participants from a nationally representative panel, where they were randomized to a brand’s ad or a control ad. Participants watched a video or viewed an article of their choice on their assigned platform. Appropriate ads were served based on test or control groups. A post-exposure survey was conducted to measure impact on traditional branding metrics and to obtain qualitative feedback. The variables tested were across content genres, news genres, platforms, ad formats, brand verticals and creative strategies.

The full study can be found here.

About Disney Ad Sales:
Disney Ad Sales is responsible for advertising sales and integrated marketing for The Walt Disney Company’s entertainment and sports offerings through linear, digital, social, audio and ad-supported streaming businesses. This includes ABC, ABC News, Disney Channels Worldwide, Disney Digital, ESPN Networks, ESPN+, Freeform, FX, National Geographic, Hulu, and its eight ABC-owned local stations.

About MAGNA:
MAGNA is the leading global media investment and intelligence company. Our trusted insights, proprietary trials offerings, industry-leading negotiation and unparalleled consultative solutions deliver an actionable marketplace advantage for our clients and subscribers.

We are a team of experts driven by results, integrity and inquisitiveness. We operate across five key competencies, supporting clients and cross-functional teams through partnership, education, accountability, connectivity and enablement. For more information, please visit our website: and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Media Contact:
Zinnia Gill
Director, Global Corporate Communications
(646) 965-4271
[email protected]